Evaluating a Rooster--too mean to keep?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by LavendarFeather, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. LavendarFeather

    LavendarFeather Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a cockerel who is about 23 weeks old now. He's extremely good with the pullets, even running over from wherever he is if he hears a hen in distress. If it's because a younger cockerel (he's the oldest) is trying to breed, this guy will break it up and then leave the hen alone. Other roosters that I've had would try to join in, or "claim the prize," but he doesn't do that. He does breed, but not in that type of circumstance. The hens like him, and he's never hurt me, but several times he has run up behind me and body slammed me in the back of the leg. No pecking, just slamming me. Once when I stomped my foot toward him because I didn't like the way he was looking at me, he flared up his neck feathers like we were going to fight.

    I am wondering if this behavior will mellow, or get worse as he matures. I can pick him up, or pet him when he's roosting. He is clearly just acting that way to protect the girls. If he gets worse, I will take him out of the game. Here's the thing though. I was hoping to breed him. He is a Mottled Java and I have 4 hens of that breed, two of which I am considering breeding. Does this sound like an overly aggressive cockerel to you? I've had pullets who were aggressive before POL, and then mellowed and became the best mothers of all. I can handle this boy the way he is, and if he gets worse my path becomes clear. But I don't want to breed irresponsibly. Thoughts?

    Thanks!
     
  2. DavidKerk

    DavidKerk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    His behavior is completely normal for a rooster. You will, however, want to nip it in order to prevent the behavior from getting worse. You need to establish yourself at the top of the pecking order as the top rooster. To do this, you must never back down. If he goes after you, go after him and chase him until he submits. Rooster are tough, so a little whack won't hurt them. They would get much worse treatment if they were challenging another rooster. If you are walking somewhere, never alter your path for fear of his attack. Just walk confidently past even if it means he has to move out of the way.

    Don't let this worry you. Even if it seems a little brutal to kick or whack your rooster once in a while, remember that, in the end, it will be better for him than ending up in the soup pot. :) I hope this helps and you resolve your problem!!! It sounds like you have a beautiful rooster!
     
  3. chfite

    chfite Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The attack from the rear should not be tolerated. At 23 weeks, his spurs are not as substantial as they will become. My rooster has flared up at me a couple of times in the past, but no more. I walk straight into him and make him back up. This assertion of dominance will establish you as the head of the pecking order. You can try picking him up and carrying him around, or a quick thunk on the head. I prefer to simply back him up. My Aussie body-checked the rooster a couple of times when he was getting out of hand.

    Remember that it is the role of the rooster to be dominant.

    In any event, he will always try to protect the hens. The worst spurring I got was when I picked up one of the hens to put an apron on her. I forget to check where the rooster was. I grabbed the hen, and he came out of nowhere and spurred me on the arm. I plan better now.

    Chris
     
  4. LavendarFeather

    LavendarFeather Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you both for your replies. I will make it a priority to teach him his place in the pecking order. I've actually started "backing him up", as you say, and we're getting along better. My main concern was if his behavior was more aggressive than that of a normal rooster, because then I would not want to breed him and perpetuate that trait. My past roosters have been more docile. I did have one cockerel who was extremely aggressive beginning at 8 weeks (an EE), and I culled him. I think this boy is probably in the range of normal. One of the hens bit me once when I was carrying her, and I've never had one do that before, so I was sort of watching for aggression in this group.
    Here he is, by the way. You can see by his posture that he thinks well of himself [​IMG]
    Betsy

    [​IMG]
     
  5. DavidKerk

    DavidKerk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    He is beautiful! I hope you can decrease his aggression!
     
  6. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Another tip on establishing your dominance with this young cockerel - when he comes at you, no matter how aggressively, immediately push him to the ground with one hand while pinching the skin on the back of his neck with the other hand. Hold this position for at least half a minute. If, when you release him, he jumps up and comes at you again, repeat the procedure.

    Do this each time he does anything aggressive toward you. Depending on the breed, some are naturally more aggressive, this should establish your dominance in as little as two or three days. As spring approaches, his hormones will be even stronger, and you may need to go through this process from time to time if he forgets who's boss.

    What you are doing is replicating the behavior of an alpha rooster toward a younger cockerel. The dominant roo will grab the upstart by the back of the neck, pinching the skin in his beak, and he will pin him to the ground. It humiliates the cockerel into submission and teaches respect for the alpha roo (you). No need to resort to hitting, kicking, swatting, slapping, etc. That only serves to make him afraid and mistrustful. A rooster who doesn't trust you will be unpredictable. You'd rather he respect and trust you, and he doesn't have to fear you to do this.

    Watch your actions around him. Be precise and slow in your movements. Go slow around the hens especially. The main causes of aggression in roos is mistrust and fear. As a rule, by the time a roo is three years old, they settle down, and they will have grown into their hormones, being calmer and less aggressive. If you can wait that long.[​IMG]
     
  7. LavendarFeather

    LavendarFeather Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you, I will try that idea of holding him down if he continues to act out. He's kind of hard to catch though! Today I didn't like his attitude so I picked him up and carried him around for awhile. He didn't like it, but accepted it until he heard another cockerel bothering the hens and then he was very upset. Anyway, he gets out of my way now. I think I can manage him. My main concern is if his behavior is unusually aggressive, since I would like to hatch some of his offspring, and don't want to produce aggressive birds.
     
  8. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Well, if he's aggressive now, he'll continue to get more so as his hormones increase with the coming longer daylight and more hens becoming fertile. The most aggressive period for a roo is between six months and three years of age. Now is a crucial time to bring him under control.

    Aggressive roosters are no problem to snatch as they charge you. Be quick and push him straight down onto the ground. You never want to chase a rooster anyway. It just gets everyone needlessly upset. Calm, deliberate movements are far more effective. It will surprise you how quickly he can be brought under control using the neck pinch.

    My seven-month old Brahma Izzy decided to challenge me this past week after being nothing but docile and sweet his entire short life. After he had delivered a rather painful bite to my leg, I did the neck pinch/hold to the ground and only had to do it once more a bit later. Now when I go into his pen, he will start out towards me, but I stand still and wait to see if he comes any closer, ready to push him to the ground if he gets that close. So far, he seems to have a clear memory of the neck pinch.

    His daddy, who died last year shortly after Izzy hatched, was a vicious biter at this age. I didn't understand how to deal with it at first. Since the biting habit had gone on far longer than it should have, it required longer to break him of it. But by the time he was two, he had become a very docile and sweet roo.

    It's a blessing if you have a cockerel who has demonstrated no aggressive tendencies, but just because he has, it doesn't mean he can't be turned into a sweet roo with consistent training. I think a lot of people cull roosters way too quickly before they even try to bring them under control. At least half of the reason for aggression in roosters is due to the behavior of the humans he's exposed to.
     
  9. Chicks Galore3

    Chicks Galore3 Artistic Bird Nut Premium Member

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    Ok - reading through this post has made me worried! I had my appendix out and I hadn't been out to the barn for 2 weeks. When I went out, my rooster, who normally tolerates me, attacked my leg, and even with a heavy heavy duty three layered snow suit on I still felt his spurs. Not much, but I felt them. I'll hate to see him in the spring. -_- BUT. LavendarFeather - like everybody else said nip it in the bud. I had now idea what I was doing with my rooster, so he has turned out a little mean. Nothing I can't handle, but I didn't know what was bad so he got away with things he shouldn't. For the most part, he'll back down but once in awhile he will challenge me.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2014
  10. goldfinches

    goldfinches Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Agressive roosters don't reform, in my limited experience. Some say they do, but I can only speak from my experience. And their offspring are just as mean.

    Attacks from behind are bad. When he has spurs, you'll understand. Don't let children near him.

    It's not normal rooster behavior. It's mean rooster behavior. A rooster can be a good protector of his hens yet not attack humans.

    I don't tolerate aggression, even if it's a pretty rooster. People tell stories of rehabbing them, and if you can afford the risk and want to try it, go for it. Research it on this site. Maybe it will work. I just can't trust an aggressive rooster to ever be truly reformed, and won't risk the safety of my children, or me or my friends, for a rooster.
     

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